Fingersmith: Textual Analysis

In the first scene where Maude and her handmaiden are in front of the mirror, Maude’s sexuality is represented through Maude’s inner monologue. The fact that this is an inner monologue, instead of her expressing herself verbally shows that she wants to keep these feelings as a secret, because she knows that her feelings will be oppressed. This is further emphasised by her wearing a pair of gloves almost all the time, the gloves symbolise concealment and keeping things a secret as she does. The fact that both of them re wearing very white or pale clothing all the time, represents purity and how they are perhaps in the right with their sexuality. This is further emphasised by the editing; longer shots that creates a gentle feel to the scene, presenting their homosexual orientation as such. This is supported by the soundtrack, at this point in the scene the music is in a major key and is indicative of their relationship, the long and soft notes played by the Oboe only add to this statement as they are representative of a calm and relaxing setting which is how their relationship is presented as well.

The scene fades to another scene and we see Maude painting while her handmaiden is sleeping on a broken boat, which is representative of how their partnership could end; badly. At this point we are introduced to a male character and it is implied that he is heterosexual, When he is first on screen the music modulates to a minor key  as her feelings are threatened by him. In fact presenting him as the villain at all further implies that Maude and her servant are instead in the right, which differs from the implied norm. The camerawork in this sequence is of note as it is representative of how Maude is viewed: The camera is always looking up at a low angle at the man and always at a high angle when looking at Maude. The dialogue in this scene is further related to her implied oppression, him threatening her with her feelings being revealed implies that these feelings are wrong within this society. this danger she is presented with is focused on heavily. the red paint that drips on her connotes danger. The pace of the editing quickens and the music becomes more uncomfortable to further add to this feeling of dread. forced upon her by the hands of a straight person, which presents her feelings as right by contrat of his being wrong.

The next scene starts with a slow motion shot of Maude’s servant’s back. The slow motion provides a gentle transition, which contrasts with the harshness of the previous scene. Maude is visually shaken by the events in the previous scene but seems to relax a little when her servant is changing. This shows that these homosexual feelings she has are good at calming her down and make her feel better, which contrasts with almost everyone else’s view on them. The music reflects this as it is very slow and calming as well. This presents the homosexual sexuality as such also.


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